Another day another directive. This time Europe wants utility owners in member states to see the sense in sharing their infrastructure, so for instance, instead of building two completely separate pole and duct networks to carry fibre optic cables in rural areas, there would be open-access infrastructure that would serve all telecoms providers on a transparent equitable basis. So far, so common sense; and the department were, at one time at least, adamantly in favour,
“..there will be no duplication of infrastructure. We are required under state aid guidelines to avoid this, but it is also a logical step that in rural Ireland where existing infrastructure can be used – for example, a pole or a duct – we would put fibre cabling on or through it. That is exactly what we will do; we will not allow a company to come in and say it will build all the poles on the other side of the road and put a cable on them. That will not happen.” – Fergal Mulligan – DCENR
Sadly, it seems that the two early pacemakers of the National Broadband Plan, eircom and SIRO (the ESB/Vodafone joint venture) don’t want to play ball. The department’s recently released register of infrastructure, not only omits any details of their infrastructure but excludes even their names.
There is no particular secret in where the infrastructure is located; much of the information is already in the public domain. However, the Directive itself is not yet law in Ireland, and ComReg has been slow to set out any ground rules for this State Intervention – the National Broadband Plan. Essentially there is no legal stick to make ESB share its pole and duct information with eircom, or the price it will be asking for space.
So we would encourage ComReg to get this sorted out quickly. If not, we’ll all end up paying.